online syllabus:


electronic reserves:
(password 450)


* groups * homework * essay *

* course schedule *

Literature 450/592 (Fall 2012):

Major Authors: Freud and Hitchcock


Description:  Description:

Dr. Abby Coykendall

abbcoy at

Pray-Harrold Hall 603J

Office Hours: M 1:30–3:30, TTh 3:15–4:45

Phone: 734.487.0954

~ or email for an appointment ~

Pray-Harrold Hall 307

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00–12:15 pm

Registration #13115

Literature 450/592: Major Authors (Sigmund Freud and Alfred Hitchcock)

LITR 450/592 will immerse you in a multiplicity of works by the same author to enable you to interpret each work more closely, creatively, and critically in light of your semester-long engagement with the others. The joint focus of the Major Authors course for this term will be Sigmund Freud and Alfred Hitchcock, respectively one of the most influential modernist philosophers and most influential film directors of all time. LITR 450/592 will thus be unique this semester in focusing on a theorist as well as an artist, neither of whom has historically been valued as an “author” in the strictly literary sense of that term in the first place.

Freud’s works are usually applied to those of other authors in order to elucidate ulterior meanings, not treated as creative—much less as intricate, innovative, or conflicted—texts in and of themselves demanding attentive analysis. Hitchcock’s works have most certainly garnered that famous director an auteur status in the eyes of most critics, literary or otherwise (auteur being French for “author,” especially the creative mastermind behind a cinematic oeuvre, or large body of filmic artworks), yet the uniquely literary quality of these films has at times passed unnoticed simply because Hitchcock tailored them for popular fantasy and the often-reviled arena of consumer culture.

As we will come to see, Freud and Hitchcock can be considered not only fascinating imaginative authors but also savvy theorists of the imagination in their own right, offering ideal objects of exploration for students like yourselves trained to appreciate and analyze literature—not the least reason being that each of these authors were avid, self-reflexive readers as well. This course will therefore concentrate less on the literary or historical contributions of these two authors—as distinguished as those contributions ultimately are—than on the poetic, political, and philosophical stakes surrounding the concept of authorship itself. We will inquire, for instance, why some forms of art garner the aura of “high art” in contradistinction to others (literature instead of film); how some artworks, and not others, come to be construed as outrageous or scandalous (and why any given artwork perhaps ought to shock so as to cultivate new modes of civility); as well as the degree to which authors working in a range of genres must blur the lines between poetics, politics, and philosophy in order to induce critical and creative positions within their audiences.

Required Materials:

Some of the required texts are available on reserve at the Halle library circulation desk, but they may also be in high demand at the times when we cover them (click asterisks ** for availability). When you purchase books, double check the ISBN number, a fingerprint of sorts for the book, to ensure that you get the same editions pictured below:

Description: hitchcoll.jpg Description: hitchfilms.jpeg Description: Description: freud.jpe Description: 3theor.gif Description: deciv.jpg

Alfred Hitchcock, The Essentials Collection (recommended DVD collection)

David Sterritt, Films of Alfred Hitchcock (Cambridge 1993; ISBN #0521398142) **  

Sigmund Freud, Interpretation of Dreams, Trans. Strachey (Basic 2010; ISBN #0465019773) **

Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Simon & Schuster 1997; ISBN #0684829460) **

Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Basic 1976; ISBN #0465086063) **

Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (Norton 1989; ISBN #0393301583) **

The remaining texts can be accessed and/or printed from campus computers in the Electronic Reserves (ER):, password 450. Bring copies of the texts that we will be covering to class.

Course Itinerary:

Nothing is more vital for success in this course than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the reading/viewing assignments, response papers, and class discussions each week. The more actively you participate, the more fully the course content can reflect your unique needs and interests. See the Schedule (/sch.htm) for the activities required for class (webpages associated with this class begin

Typically, each week we will watch one Hitchcock film in tandem with reading a work by Freud; the reading load will be greater at the beginning of the term, when we will be covering the Interpretation of Dreams, but will afterwards taper out to allow you to concentrate on the paper due at the semester’s close. (The other books are around a hundred pages each, shorter than the Interpretation combined.)


The weekly assignments ensure ongoing preparation for and participation in the class. Depending on your group number—see the groups handout (/groups.htm)—you will be composing discussion questions or response papers on the films or readings for the week, or enjoying a week’s reprieve from written homework. The homework assignments handout (/hw.htm) explains each task in detail.

Most classes will consist of interactive discussions stemming from the groupwork, which is simply a way to organize which set of students do which assignment (and with which materials) each week—thus diversifying the topics highlighted in class discussion, the people responsible for bringing those issues to our attention, as well as the skills that they use to do so. There is, however, no “groupwork” properly speaking; that is, collaboration your peers on the same assignment.

Some works may prove daunting to read, but you need not master every concept that the author unfolds. Focus on the big picture, tracing three or four key arguments, honing in on specific ideas most of interest to you, and drawing connections between those ideas and the films that we will be discussing for the week.

Graduate Students:

Those taking the course for graduate credit must read both the supplementary and required readings, occasionally bring in quotations for the class to discuss from the supplementary materials, compose longer writing assignments, and incorporate more sources into the term paper and essay exams.

Instructor Availability:

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns in person during my office hours, as well as at any time through email (abbcoy at Emails with straightforward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with thornier issues typically receive a reply before the next class period and at most within a week.

Please limit emails to inquiries that I alone can answer so that I can give the more pressing inquiries of other students the attention that they deserve. If, for example, you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus (/f12.pdf), the homework handout (/hw.htm), or the peers in your group (groups.htm), and then email me only if the confusion persists.

The first time that undergraduates visit my office hours in person with a course-related inquiry—such as to get guidance on the homework, discuss the readings that we have lately covered, or brainstorm essay ideas—I will give 10 points extra credit for the visit.



Participation (responses, homework, groupwork, & quizzes)

due dates:


Examination #1(self-designed essay exam tying together section materials)

October 18


Paper Proposal (essay guidelines will be available in advance)

November 20


Examination #2 (self-designed essay exam tying together section materials)

December 11


Tern Paper (minimum 6 pages undergraduate, 15 pages graduate)

December 18


Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial. You never need to explain your absences, as I will always assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class; however, students who miss more than FOUR classes for any reason will have their final grade reduced by a full mark, and those who miss more than FIVE classes will not be eligible to pass. Reserve the allowable absences for illnesses or other emergencies truly preventing you from coming to class so as to not exhaust them too early in the term.

When you must be absent, contact students in your group (/groups.htm) to share notes or determine what you missed. Any changes to the Schedule (/scd.htm) will be sent to the class as a whole by email. Besides the exams, which must be taken on the scheduled day, missed homework is due on your return.


The most essential information—due dates, assignment instructions, clarification of outstanding issues—is typically given at the beginning of class, so it is essential to come on time. Leave home early just in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking). Arriving well into the class period or exiting well before its conclusion each count as half an absence. If you come late, it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet to avoid being marked absent. Habitual lateness that disrupts the class will eventually be counted as an absence as well.

Grading Scale:





























Classroom Etiquette:

It is important to be mindful of your peers during class time, listening to them with the same respect and attention that you hope to receive yourself. Once class begins, do not distract your peers by walking in or out of the room unless there is a genuine emergency. If you have a medical condition requiring you to exit occasionally, bring a doctor’s note confirming as such; if not, reserve all personal business, including bathroom or water breaks, for after class.

Disruptive exits can be both mental and physical. Students unprepared to discuss the texts for the day may be asked to leave and marked absent; so too will students looking at non-course-related content on tablet or laptop screens, especially if for long stretches of time or repeatedly. This course has a no-cell-phone policy, so do not bother taking those instruments out during class time.

Academic & Campus Resources:

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one writing consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Make appointments or drop in from 10AM to 4PM Mondays through Thursdays and from 11AM to 4PM on Fridays. Bring a draft of your work and the assignment. The UWC also has several satellite sites across campus, including in Pray Harrold 521 (open 10–2 M–Th).

The Academic Projects Center (116 Halle Library) offers one-to-one, drop-in consulting for students on writing, research, or technology-related issues from 11-5 Monday-Thursday. Another support center is the International Student Resource Center (200 Alexander, 487-0370) dedicated to second-language students from abroad.

Also consider availing yourself of the campus escort service, Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, by calling 48-SEEUS (487-3387). If you sign up for the emergency text-messaging system (, DPS can notify us of any calamity afflicting the campus.

Academic Integrity:

Doing all coursework on your own is imperative. Copying the homework of peers, taking credit for essays that you find on the internet, cheating on exams, or recycling your own essays written for other classes for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty. The worst form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which, put simply, is taking either the ideas or the words of another person and reusing them as if they are your own.  You must acknowledge when you make use of the concepts and/or expressions of other people without any exception under any circumstance, whether it be by drawing on Wikipedia for mundane (and quite possibly specious) information or channeling the most holy of holy books for heavenly inspiration.

When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to signal as such (e.g., So and so says X … ”); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your own writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (e.g., So and so says “X”). Writing lacking these acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and any writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source.

All instances of academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; second instances will result in outright failure of the course. There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor will there be any exceptions to this policy. Make sure that your work is plagiarism-free before turning it in.


[Syllabus last modified September 6, 2012]